Umpires, referees, judges and stewards: changing modes of judgment and arbitration in English sport c.1600–c.1900

Huggins, Mike ORCID logoORCID: (2023) Umpires, referees, judges and stewards: changing modes of judgment and arbitration in English sport c.1600–c.1900. The International Journal of the History of Sport, 40 (8). pp. 661-679.

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This paper explores the way arbitration approaches developed through the first four stages of rule development, focusing in turn on the ways the popularity of wagering first created more need for formally signed ‘articles of agreement’ for each match, and then the inclusion of arbitration and judgement methods in the emerging early forms of rules. It then shows the way various official roles evolved over time alongside broader rule developments: the need for ‘umpires’ in cricket, pugilism, and some other sports; the role of ‘tryers’, ‘judges’ and ‘stewards’ in horse racing; arbitration through expertise, experience, and status in cockfighting; and the rare attempts to take appeals beyond the immediate game. It then explores how these official roles developed from the early nineteenth century onwards, as national organizations grew in power, and how a new role, the neutral ‘referee’, was created to arrive at a solution when umpires or others disagreed. Changes in later nineteenth-century rugby and soccer illustrate the way the then new forms of football followed earlier processes in moving towards more neutral forms of arbitration.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: The International Journal of the History of Sport
Publisher: Taylor and Francis Group
ISSN: 1743-9035
Departments: Institute of Arts > Humanities
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons attribution-nonCommercial-noDerivatives license (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
SWORD Depositor: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2023 11:26
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2023 14:29


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